SHELTON — “Dramatic” changes on Railroad Avenue feature red-painted medians and crosswalks, plus raised markers instead of striping.
City Manager Ryan Wheaton calls the Railroad Avenue traffic revisions “a creative way to make some solutions.”
“I also want to recognize my appreciation for the work that [Public Works Director] Craig Gregory and the public works crew did in coming up with some very creative solutions to make some improvements,” Wheaton told the city commissioners Monday afternoon.
Wheaton said old striping was removed on Railroad Avenue from 1st to 7th streets on Sunday. Striping was also removed on Franklin between 5th and 7th avenues in preparation for returning the road segment fronting Mason Transit Community Center to two-way traffic.
It is anticipated that the “road diet” project will be completed on or before Friday.
“We are likely making the most dramatic improvement in downtown Shelton with the restriping of Railroad that’s gone on in a few generations,” Wheaton said.
The biggest part of the so-called “Road Diet” change is “moving the center line from where it’s been in decades,” said Wheaton, who started his job just three weeks into the experiment guided by the citizen’s Downtown Visioning Committee to make Shelton’s main commercial drag more pedestrian and business friendly.
Gregory, with Wheaton’s support, connected with the City of Tumwater, which has also replaced road striping with raised markers.
Railroad businessman Forrest Cooper read his protests to the city commissioners, saying raised markers would create potential tripping hazards for Forest Festival parade marchers.
Wheaton later played a video for the commissioners showing gymnasts, marching bands and horses walking all over the markers without problem.
Wheaton said after recent tests set up by Public Works, city commissioners, visioning committee members, chamber of commerce representatives and city staffers all agreed the raised markers at left-turn pocket lanes were the way best option.
Wheat said the markers make striping unnecessary, give the city “more bang for your buck.”
Some of the reflective markers glow, helping motorists see the line on dark, rainy nights, Wheaton said.
Mayor Gary Cronce said he was “extremely happy” with Railroad’s new look. City commissioners Kathy McDowell and Tracy Moore agreed.
The Public Works Department’s Streets Team brought forward the idea to use raised traffic markers and corresponding reflectors to designate the turn pockets in the new center medians. Through consultation with the City’s engineering staff and several comparison city administrators, Shelton City officials decided this was the safest, most cost effective and aesthetically pleasing option moving forward.
“One of the key factors in the decision to utilize traffic markers on Railroad Avenue was the desire to provide motorists with a tactile warning when approaching the new intersections,” the city stated in a news release. “In addition to the red medians separating the two lanes of traffic lanes, the raised traffic markers provide a creative solution for highlighting the recent improvements.”
Wheaton said it is anticipated that after three years the City will be money ahead by selecting a more permanent solution.